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Safety Landon Collins puzzled by defensive ineptitude

Despite similar personnel, a unit ranked 10th last season has fallen to 31st.

Giants safety Landon Collins reacts during a game against

Giants safety Landon Collins reacts during a game against the Seahawks at MetLife Stadium on Oct.  22, 2017. Photo Credit: Mike Stobe

Landon Collins looks at his Giants teammates. Then he looks at the results. It doesn’t make sense to him.

“We know the caliber of defense that we have, the caliber players that we have and the game-changers that we have on defense,” the safety said Thursday. “It messes with our head a little. We should be better than what we are.”

In the past two games, the Giants allowed 82 points, two more than they allowed in the final six games last season. And those scores aren’t coming on cheap drives set up by turnovers or special-teams gaffes, either. Of the 10 touchdowns allowed to the Rams and 49ers, only two have been on drives that started in Giants territory. Four went for more than 70 yards.

It’s dropped the Giants to the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL entering Week 11, down from 10th, where they finished in 2016. Although they have many of the same players, they haven’t been in the top 10 all season.

“We’ve been giving over 400 yards of total offense the past two, three weeks,” Collins said. “It bothers me because we don’t do that. We haven’t done that since my rookie year [2015], and we’re doing it again. That bothers me a lot. I don’t like to condone stuff like that.”

That’s one of the reasons the Giants’ defense held a players-only meeting Wednesday, immediately on the tail of Ben McAdoo’s much-publicized “brutally honest” meeting with the full team. Several defensive leaders spoke up about sticking together and righting the struggles that have made what was supposed to be the strength of the team into its biggest handicap.

“I know that we have prideful guys,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “Do we get discouraged in the course of the game? A little bit, yeah. Do we get a little bit frustrated? Yeah, and that’s what we’ve got to filter out, I think, in the course of the game. Don’t let a bad play or a good play affect the next play. If we do that, I think we’ll play much better.”

The Giants expect to see that Sunday against the Chiefs.

“We’re going to come out strong, we usually do,” Collins said. “We definitely take on every opportunity that we get when we step on the field and try to be the best team, the best defense that we can be. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

“We know what we have to do,” tackle Damon Harrison said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and executing the game plan on Sundays. We’ve been having some great weeks of practice and it hasn’t translated to the stadiums yet on Sunday, so hopefully we get an opportunity this week. But the mindset is still the same: go out and win. We’ve just got to tweak a few things.”

Despite the recent letdowns, McAdoo said he continues to have faith in the defense.

“We’ve had success and we’ve had strong defensive performances this year,” he said. “I’m confident in the men that coach the defense and that play in the defense that they’re going to respond and get it right.”

Spagnuolo said he has a list of three areas in which the Giants need to improve.

“I think we’ve got to be better at technique, we’ve got to have better eye discipline and then we’ve just got to get after it,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s when you play good defensive football. To me, it’s that simple.”

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